Writing for a Cause: adolescent activism

bother listI had the privilege of leading a workshop at the Kellogg Hubbard Library a few weeks ago. Because I teach 6th grade, I have a deep affection for the spirit and heart of middle grade students. I happen to know that this age students has a fierce passion for social justice. They just need some support and direction. This is why I feel so strongly about service learning and helping these students channel their energy into something good. It’s why I wrote Change the World with Service Learning and it’s why I led this workshop.

I started with having students list their “bothers.”  What is wrong with the world? What do you want to change? What makes you mad, keeps you up? Here’s what we came up with:

bother list 2Then I showed them what you can do. Write books. Make art. Make videos. Write poems. Write songs. Write posts, editorials, letters, you name it. We made a list of ideas.

Then I had the kids pick— what do you want to do? Some ideas that emerged were editorial cartoons, a new organization called Stomp Out Stereotypes (SOS), and friendship poems. All these kids needed was time, support and inspiration.


We exchanged email addresses and vowed to support each other’s work.  We were all inspired and hopeful. I’d love to do this workshop again or help others lead it. Kids– find your passion and go do it to make the world a better place.

Katy Farber is a teacher and author of the new book, The Order of the Trees, published by Green Writer’s Press.